It comes as no surprise that the 2020 holiday shopping season will be like none other. While smart retailers are hard at work preparing a variety of complementary strategies to appeal to customers in an unpredictable time, it will come down to your patronage of Detroit small businesses to see them through and rekindle the city’s pre-pandemic momentum.
According to experts, the COVID-19 pandemic will not steal gift giving entirely like the Grinch, but it is sure to put a damper on retail revenue. High unemployment and economic uncertainty are also expected to depress holiday sales, which Deloitte forecasts to increase only 1.5 percent across the U.S. from November through January. However, the firm expects a 35 percent increase in seasonal online sales. That means savvy business owners will need to make big adjustments to cash in on the digital wave.
Are Detroit small businesses prepared? At DEGC, we are encouraging retailers to act quickly – if they haven’t already – to implement the processes necessary for a virtual selling experience. Mobile apps, Buy Online Pickup in Store (BOPIS), e-commerce payment options like PayPal, free shipping, hassle-free return policies and accessible customer service are all digital must-haves to leverage upcoming shopping opportunities. Behind the scenes, retailers must have adequate quantities of stock on hand, automated shipping and fulfillment processes, and an optimized hi-speed website with 24/7 IT support. To promote sales, retailers also need to establish an online presence through digital marketing, social media, creative branding and memorable packaging.
It’s a lot for small businesses to take on, especially those already struggling. But, while traditional brick-and-mortar sales are expected to receive a smaller slice of this year’s shopping pie, they won’t disappear. Stores selling in-person may need additional staff to enforce COVID-19 regulations and are also encouraged to offer curbside pickup as a way to provide customers a safe experience.
Whether online or in-person, COVID-19 has made the “Shop Local Detroit” motto more critical than ever. With Small Business Saturday fast approaching, there’s no better time to support your community retailers. Founded a decade ago, this day is celebrated each year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving; this year it is Nov. 28.
The DEGC website is highlighting Detroit businesses offering special holiday products and services. Our social channels will feature Detroit businesses and their upcoming promotions throughout November, leading to Small Business Saturday. Various social media influencers will be posting their favorite deals.
With the expectation that Black Friday shopping will decline and Cyber Monday sales will rise, Small Business Saturday can blend the best of both selling experiences to drive shoppers to neighborhood stores.
Success will not only depend on retailers’ ability to adopt online technology and adapt to a socially distanced in-person experience, but also consumers’ commitment to embrace their local retailers and turn out in large numbers – physically or digitally.
If we all shop small and shop safe, we can help ensure a very happy holiday season.